Rep. Neal M. Kurk (R) has introduced a bill that would limit the use of drones in the Granite State.
HB1620 is similar to a bill introduced earlier in the session by Rep. Joe Duarte, but takes things a step further by applying the prohibition to drone use by the federal government and including penalties for violating its provisions.
Kurk’s proposed legislation regulates the use of drones by governments, as well as individuals. It requires search warrants, levies fines, and does not allow for the lethal or nonlethal arming of drones in the state.
“No government shall use a drone in this state; provided that such prohibition shall not apply…”
Exceptions include a duly issued warrant, “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack” if the Department of Homeland Security determines such a threat to exist,” “If law enforcement “possesses reasonable suspicion that…swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property,” and if the agency has prior written consent.
The legislation defines “government” as “federal, state, and local agencies and departments and any political subdivisions thereof, including employees, agents, and contractors.”
Kurk said he used similar bills along with his own contributions to draft the legislation. He said he would have had no trouble in getting co-sponsors, but for purposes of expediency, he chose to not go that route.
“It is often easier to develop amendments, make compromises, etc., if one is the sole sponsor, as one needn’t take the time to consult, etc., with co-sponsors,” he said.
While some might find the exceptions in the bill troubling, it represents a huge improvement over the status quo. As it stands now, law enforcement can use drones in New Hampshire with absolutely no restrictions. This bill stop drone use without a warrant in most cases.
Not only does the bill directly prohibit the federal government from flying drones over New Hampshire expect for specific circumstances, it would also serve to put the brakes on more general federal plans to expand drone use across the U.S.
“The feds want to push these on the states, and if the states refuse, it’ll foil their plan,” he said. “They already spy on Americans so much that Rand Paul said it numbered in the ‘Gazillions’ after a secret meeting last fall. If the feds can get the states to start buying up and running drones over our cities, they’ll certainly want access to all that surveillance information in the future. It’s important that states begin drawing a line in the sand now – no aerial spying here.”
In fact, the federal government serves as the primary engine behind the expansion of drone surveillance carried out by states and local communities. The Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local governments so they can purchase drones. Those grants, in and of themselves, represent an unconstitutional expansion of power.
The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once they create a web over the whole country, DHS steps in with requests for ‘information sharing.’ Bills like these put a dent in this kind of long-term strategy. Without the states and local communities operating the drones today, it’s going to be nearly impossible for DHS plans to – take off.
HB1620 was assigned to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee. It has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing, so no action has been taken by the House and won’t be probably until mid-March.
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING
If you live in New Hampshire: Click HERE to find out what steps you can take to support HB1620
If you live in another state: Visit the Tenth Amendment Action Center to see what action you can take to limit drone use in your state HERE.